Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Marijuana petitioner back in district court

Judge denies attorney fees in suit against Sun Valley

Express Staff Writer

Ryan Davidson

Ryan Davidson and his Liberty Lobby of Idaho organization were back in Blaine County 5th District Court Monday trying to collect "attorney" fees, following his Idaho Supreme Court marijuana initiative victory over the City of Sun Valley last fall.

But Judge Robert J. Elgee denied Davidson's request, in part because Davidson is not an attorney and in part because the high court ruled that Sun Valley had not acted unreasonably in denying Davidson's petition more than two years ago. The petition was filed as part of the initiative process and would have let the electorate vote on the question of legalizing marijuana within Sun Valley's city limits.

Elgee did award Davidson his filing fee, which Davidson says is worth about $70.

Davidson shook up city governments in Ketchum, Hailey and Sun Valley in 2004 when he presented signed petitions to the city clerks in the three cities. The petitions, none of which were processed, would have allowed the voters to determine the legality of marijuana within their respective city limits.

Davidson ended up in Blaine County District Court with the City of Sun Valley over the issue and lost. He appealed to the high court, which ruled in his favor last September, saying that regardless of the constitutionality of the proposal the question could legally be put to the voters.

The ruling helped set new precedence for the initiative process in Idaho.

Although he was victorious, the Supreme Court has twice denied Davidson request for attorney fees.

Sun Valley assistant city attorney Adam King argued the city's case Monday before Elgee.

"There is simply no provision for attorney fees for a pro se litigant in Idaho," King said. "I don't think this court should overrule the Supreme Court or be legislating,"

King further said that Sun Valley acted reasonably at the time Davidson's petition was presented and should not be subject to sanctions.

Elgee agreed. "The Supreme Court has already determined that the City of Sun Valley acted with a reasonable basis of fact or law and I have no reason to disagree with that," he said.

The judge nonetheless complemented Davidson on his efforts.

"I have to say Mr. Davidson that many of your theories are well thought out and good theories, but they're not going to fly," Elgee said. "I think you've done an extraordinary job. You've succeeded in turning over some precedents and my hats off to you."

Davidson said later that he'll appeal Elgee's ruling to the Supreme Court. Also, he said he's going to send a letter to the Sun Valley requesting that the city process the petition he filed more than two years ago.

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